Nunavut Post

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Nunavut man can’t delay flying home as he’s a licensed helicopter pilot


Key takeaways: 

  • Kelly Owlijoot was a nature technician in Arviat when attempting something fresh.
  • Kelly Owlijoot stands aside a chopper.
  • Owlijoot got his pilot’s right after finishing the Prairie Helicopters Inc.’s flight training program in Gimli, Man.

Nunavut man got his pilot’s license: 

Kelly Owlijoot first considered becoming a helicopter pilot while working as a nature technician in Arviat, Nunavut.

It wasn’t an apparent career option. Even though Nunavut depends on air journeys for numerous things, Inuit has been traditionally under-represented in the flight enterprise. 

That’s now transforming, and Owlijoot, 46, expects to encourage more Inuit to obey in his footsteps.  

He chose to become a pilot when operating with biologists from the Nunavut government’s Environment division, exploring the migration and patterns of the Qamanirjuaq caribou herd. Sometimes that work would bring him to the skies, hanging in helicopters over Nunavut’s Kivalliq region territories, Manitoba and Saskatchewan. 

“I would be in the back, adding what the biologist would speak, like, a cow, cow, bull, bull, calf, yearling, yearling.” Source –

And I had to note them down, and I couldn’t even glance out at the caribou and stuff,” Owlijoot remembered. Source –

He did that job for a couple of years before learning there was another career he liked. 

Also read: Nunavut health minister accuses misinformation in Igloolik COVID-19 pandemic

The man in Nunavut got his pilot license and doesn’t want to wait for flying home

“I began thinking, why am I not sitting up there? Like, maybe I could become a biologist or a pilot? So I had to choose between the two.” Source –

He decided to be a pilot.

Pilot academy

In 2020, Owlijoot was taken into Prairie Helicopters Inc.’s flight training program in Gimli, Man., 90, approximately kilometers north of Winnipeg. 

But he was also required to see the $97,500 to pay for the training. 

Owlijoot applied for scholarships through the Nunavut Government and the Kivalliq Inuit Association. 

He wasn’t convinced his application would be taken, but it was, and he finished up receiving monetary backing from both.

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